Saturday, December 31, 2005

wacky misunderstandings + commentary on the illogical nature of English + Sharmila = goodness: Chupke Chupke

This movie is adorable. I want to shrink it down to pocket-size so I can keep it with me all the time to have it handy whenever I need a reminder that the world does have some levity and joy left in it. The last movie I felt like this about was Italian for Beginners. (Ah, Bollywood and Dogma 95 - who knew they had so much in common?)

Using an extended practical joke and identity mix-up as feature plot elements can be tricky. In my experience, most of these types of stories go one of two ways: either the viewer will think the whole thing is hilarious and go along for the ride, or the story will fall very, very flat, kerplunk, in exhaustion of trying to keep up with itself (yes, you, Hungama). Chupke Chupke did neither, I think because the wackiness was only part of the story, and it was paced so that by the point I was wondering if they could possibly do anything else with it, they ended it. I also liked that multiple people were in on it - it felt conspiratorial in an inclusive, giggling way.

The real point, to me, was watching a cute couple have fun together, and these were the best moments: Sharmila slipping Dharmendra her address, them holding hands through a curtain while she sings and he's not supposed to be either in the room or touching her, her pretending to be more excited by her husband in his pretend identity. Now that I write this out, I can see how this would sound silly, but trust me, it's endearing, owing entirely to the actors. This is my first and second viewing of Sharmila and Dharmendra, respectively, and I loved them both, especially her. I can see where Saif gets his ability to do earnest-yet-playful. It helped that not much depended on the outcome of their joke - while it was really satisfying to him to see her brother-in-law fooled, they key thing was that they were enjoying themselves.

The jokes about English were priceless - that's my kind of geeky - and now I know Hindi for "poo." I also really enjoyed seeing Amitabh be a different kind of character than I've seen before - light, silly, and not a serious thing about him - twinkly, even - and I got a sudden flash of "like father, like son" when he was bouncing around the garden pretending to be the botanist with Jaya.

The only downside of this whole thing for me was that there wasn't any dancing. The songs didn't strike me one way or the other, but I don't think anybody actually danced. It is very poor form indeed to set up a character so charming as a goofy English teacher and then not let him dance. Oh, and talk about teases - did you catch that Dharmendra and Amitabh mention their former musical glory in the college competition? I mean, we don't get a flashback or anything, but still! I'll have to add it, along with last week's Karisma-Abhishek-Akshay disaster, to my list of "almosts."

How odd that a movie from 1975 can claim the honor of "most sane outfits sported by a group of female students in a Hindi film." But it's true! Their bellbottoms and flared sleeves looked downright classy compared to the nightmares featured in more recent productions. All they needed were signs.

5 comments:

Accidental Fame Junkie said...

You saw a really good film! Chupke Chupke is a hilarious good fun movie. I remember the scene you are talking about: the fake professor almost gets caught flirting with his student! What fun!

Hrishikesh Mukherjee the director is known for such almost realistic movies. Try seeing his "Golmal." Mukherjee was known in the '70s to make such movies which the media dubbed "middle class movies" as opposed to the glitter and glamour of some other movies.

Beth said...

Mucho thanks to Obi Wan for recommending it! It's so cute. I will definitely look for others by the director - hopefully my video store has some!

Obi Wan said...

You're most welcome. By the way, Hrishikesh Mukherjee is not a director, he is an institution. It's always safe to pick up any of his works when you are in doubt as to what movie to watch. Anari(old Raj Kapoor classic), Anupama, Satyakam, Ashirwad, Anand, Guddi, Bawarchi, Abhimaan, Namak Haraam, Mili, Khubsoorat, Golmaal(as already mentioned by AFJ), and of course Chupke Chupke, which you've just watched! As an added incentive, Dharmendra and Amitabh have never looked as good as they have in his movies!

Dananjay said...

hi beth. good to see your enthusiasm for well-made hindi movies.

do make it a point to watch "Anand" and "Abhimaan". Beautiful stories with tight plots and sensitively directed.

try watching a few tamil movies also. you could start with "Nayakan" by Mani Ratnam which was inspired by The Godfather, and for a change it is truly inspired. And "Chinna Gounder" (by R.V. Udayakumar if i'm not mistaken).

happy watching!

Jyotsna Pattabiraman said...

Hey Beth - and Beth fans - I know there are tons of people who love vintage Bollywood movies, so I started a streaming site that has a lot of Hrishikesh Mukherjee movies. Check out www.moovieshoovie.com and let me know what you think !